When most breast cancer patients finish treatment, docs set up a schedule of regular visits for mammograms, blood work, and general physical monitoring. In the best cases, they also help you develop a survivorship plan (SCP) to help navigate life as a whole after cancer. The report, From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Translation, written in 2005, offers a blueprint for this transitional period. In the introduction, the authors note:
Despite the increase in survivors...primary care physicians and other health care providers often are not extremely familiar with the consequences of cancer, and seldom receive explicit guidance from oncologists. Furthermore, the lack of clear evidence for what constitutes best practices in caring for patients with a history of cancer contributes to wide variation in care.The report's recommendations acknowledge the the period after cancer treatment should be seen as a "distinct phase of cancer care." This means going beyond tests and helping patients deal with the fact that they have had cancer and are likely terrified that it will return. Cancer care may last a lifetime.
Access to affordable health care is a constant in the group's recommendations, which is especially apt as we await the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act. If the act is struck down, require Congress to implement some of its aspects, such as allowing covering for people with preexisting conditions and eliminating lifetime caps on coverage. Those who have gone through cancer treatment know that good healthcare is a lifesaver. And the need for care does not stop when treatment ends—nor does the cost get any more reasonable.